carlos rojas

naked gaze 肉眼


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December 30, 2006



Interesting post, Carlos (and nice to see you about, btw). It struck me as a very Catholic film - and I suppose the Madonna does not really assume an authorial capacity, because that is the provenance of God. And perhaps God was reinscribed as Humanity here.

Though, I have to admit that while I liked the film (or, rather, I found the depiction of politics as completely overdetermined by border policing compelling), I kept distracting myself with the thought that a collapse in reproduction would more likely result in a stronger reorientation of migration policy toward certain kinds of labour: aged care, in particular (as in Japan, Israel, etc). And not the crackdown on migration per se.

In the end, and a bit like The Matrix, I think I preferred the aesthetic over the narrative I guess.


Thanks Angela,
Regarding the (im)migration issue, yes I initially had a similar response. If one accepts the hypothetical premise of the film, however, the world-wide collapse in reproduction (which, in any event, is far more accelerated and absolute than any existing society has yet had to deal with) contributes not only to an increasingly elderly population in England, but also to the complete political collapse of most or all other nations (limited nuclear wars, etc.). Therefore, the relative political stability of England proves to be an irresistable magnet for vast numbers of refugees who, in turn, threaten the stability to which they are attracted. Under these conditions, it does not seem to me that implausible that the government would respond by taking a very hard line on (im)migration. (By way of comparison, I would note that there are currently many in the US who advocate, at least rhetorically, a strict reduction of both legal and illegal immigrants, even though a steady supply of both is, arguably, in the country's economic and social best interest).

Your mention of Japan and Israel is interesting. While it is true that both actively encourage migration which will provide "certain kinds of labour," it is equally true that the actual immigration policies of both nations are unusually strict (it is extremely difficult for a non-Japanese to become a naturalized citizen, and while I know less about Israel, my impression is that it is similarly difficult for non-Jews to become naturalized. In any event, it would appear that the Israel's strict policing of its own internal boundaries with the West Bank and Gaza may very well have been one of the inspirations for some of the imagery found in Children of Men).

In some ways Children of Men reminded me of Day After Tomorrow (2004). Both films use a scientifically hokey premise (complete worldwide collapse of fertility; instantaneous and vertiginous drop of Northern hemisphere temperatures) to underscore very real, albeit long-term, problems (decreasing birth rates in many developed countries; global warming, leading to a possible rerouting of the Gulf Stream). In both films, the temporal telescoping of these processes contributes much of the dramatic tension, but at the same time distorts somewhat some of the actual stakes involved in the issues they seek to raise.


liked your reading of the film. just wanted to respond to something that your first poster wrote--in P.D. James' novel, the collapse of reproduction has in fact resulted in the state's prioritization in the care and comfort of the elderly, and a large population of 'Sojourners' perform these tasks (much in the same way that southeast asian domestics are shipped in to work in singapore, saudi arabia, hong kong, etc, a phenomenon that became much more prevalent and state-regulated in the late eighties and early nineties). in that sense, the novel is very much rooted in the anxieties of the early 90s, just as the film is rooted in the anxieties of post-9/11 UK and US.


Just to clarify: by mentioning the encouragement of particular kinds of labour migration in the context of declining national population figures, I wasn't suggesting a tendency toward less restrictive migration policies (since in those instances of Japan, etc, restrictions have been rather more pronounced of late).

Rather, that the zero migration policy that the film dramatises tends to be accompanied by Malthusian premises about population, fertility, etc. I thought it would have been more plausible, and still rather dystopian, had those 'fugees been rounded up and conscripted into slavery or for workcamps ...

Anyway, dystopias aside, best for the new year!


Eileen and Angela,

Many thanks. Those are both great points (and angela, i note your own most recent post is quite apropos here, though it points in somewhat the opposite direction).

(And, on a grumpy note, your reference to Malthus reminds me of my irritation at the way nearly everyone casually dismisses "Malthusian" concerns as hyperbolic and misguided. Although there is arguably no immmediate danger of the earth's population existing available food supplies [Malthus' most immediate concern], it does appear as if we have may very have already passed the point at which the earth's ecosystem may accomodate additional human population growth without suffering profound adverse repercussions [at least given existing technologies and practical limits on political leadership]).

At any rate, I wish you and everyone a (non-dystopic) happy new year!

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